By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The government shutdown ended Monday — at least until Feb. 8.
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Republicans Monday and agreed to the deal that President Donald Trump had offered on Friday. Democrats agreed to fund the government through Feb. 8 and to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The deal that has passed both Houses of Congress fully funds CHIP for the next six years.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, stood their ground and refused to agree to Democrat demands that the government funding be tied to amnesty for the DACA recipients. Two days of Republicans claiming that Democrats cared more about than the DACA recipients than American children apparently was too much for Senate Democrats.
Republicans were jubilant over the tactical victory.
“This shutdown was meaningless and petty. Senate Democrats shut down the federal government over illegal immigration, but thankfully they caved after realizing the blame was squarely on their shoulders,” Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said in a statement.
“To make clear, there was no agreement made in the House about any issues relating to illegal immigration,” Rep. Byrne said. “This #SchumerShutdown accomplished absolutely nothing. I hate that this whole ordeal even occurred, but I am glad the federal government can now return to business. The bill will fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and fund the remainder of the federal government through February 8, 2018.”
The Democrats’ willingness to finally fund the children on CHIP was a relief to Alabama officials as the possibility of the state having to pick up the burden of the CHIP program would have created budget issues in what otherwise appears to be the best budget year in over a decade.
“I am thankful that Congress has finally passed a continuing resolution to fund the Federal Government, including a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). I have continually supported CHIP funding because approximately 159,000 Alabama children depend on it for their health insurance. Caring for our children and meeting their healthcare needs is a bipartisan issue; I appreciate Alabama’s Congressional Delegation for playing a key role in ensuring continued funding for CHIP,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said.
The Senate passed the measure 81 to 18. The bill then went to the House where it passed 266 to 150. Many House Democrats still opposed the deal and some accused Schumer of caving.
“I am pleased the Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders, and insurance for vulnerable children,” President Trump said in a statement.
Some Democratic-allied groups reacted to the decision with anger.
“This is a bad, outrageous deal. Trump and Republicans in Congress stood with their anti-immigrant nativist base and too many Democrats backed down, abandoned Dreamers, and failed to fight for their values. The fight is far from over-with days until DACA expires for all recipients and with the Senate now likely to consider the Dream Act that the vast majority of Americans support, the grassroots progressive movement is committed to mobilizing alongside Dreamers until we win,” MoveOn.org Political Action Executive Director Ilya Sheyman said in a statement.
A deal on DACA is far from certain. McConnell promised Senate Democrats that he would allow a vote in the Senate on the the measure; but even if such a deal passed the Senate, how would it fare in the more conservative U.S. House of Representatives?
Trump said, “We will make a long-term deal on immigration if and only if it is good for our country.”
The administration is reportedly demanding that any deal on the Dreamers include ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery and building the border wall.
Pro-immigrant U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, blamed hardliners in the Trump Administration including White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly and former Jeff Sessions aide Stephen Miller for the inability to get a deal on immigration.
Graham said of Miller, “His view of immigration has never been in the mainstream of the Senate.”
Meanwhile, moderate Democrats continue to negotiate with the White House. On Monday, Senators Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Doug Jones, D-Alabama, met with Trump. This was Jones’ first meeting with the president.
“The shutdown has ended. In spite of a President sending confused and conflicting messages, Republican and Democratic Senators negotiated in good faith to arrive at an agreement to end the impasse. We will fund the children’s health insurance program and we will vote on a solution for the Dreamers. It will be the first Floor vote for Democrats since the election (outside the sham budget process), and we hope that is a breakthrough. We have accelerated the negotiations on a funding bill, and we still must vote on the debt limit. This is what progress looks like,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, said in a statement.
The stock market soared on the news. The Dow Jones index closed up 143 points on the day.
A new continuing resolution to fund the government will be needed on Feb. 8. Democrats are threatening to shut down the government again if their immigration demands are not met.
(Original reporting by Fox News and the Washington Post contributed to this report.)